Palliative care doctors reveal opposition to assisted suicide

Doctors who provide end-of-life support oppose assisted suicide and think palliative care would suffer if the practice was introduced, a new survey has shown.

A survey of members of the Association for Palliative Medicine found that 82 per cent of respondents opposed Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill.

More than 70 per cent of practicing doctors responding to the questionnaire said there would be an “adverse” or “very adverse” impact on the delivery of palliative care if assisted suicide was legalised.

Clear message

Dr David Brooks, the Association’s President, said the results “give a clear message to legislators”.

“Those who care for terminally ill people day-in day-out believe society should be supporting people at this time in their lives, not putting them at risk.”

He commented: “Palliative physicians dedicate their working lives to helping patients with incurable illness live as well as they can for as long as they can.”


The poll follows a warning against assisted suicide from Michael Wenham, a blogger and author who has Motor Neurone Disease.

Wenham argued against the ‘right to choose’, saying “our right to choose is widely curtailed for very good reasons”.

“We’re not free to drive as fast as we choose, or in what direction we choose, or to smoke wherever we choose. The reason is the public good, to protect the vulnerable.”

No safeguards

Countering the idea that assisted suicide is “a purely personal matter”, he said, “it affects the doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are expected to perform semantic contortions and pretend that killing is a synonym for curing, and to desert their vocations as healers”.

Wenham commented, “once the line of legitimising the deliberate ending of life has been crossed, no amount of ‘safeguards’, even legal oversight, will hold back its extension”.

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